The difference between a good company and a great company can be linked to many factors, but perhaps one of the most compelling drivers of success is great leadership. Strong leadership can turn a high-turnover employee pool into a committed, engaged workforce; it can spur innovation and creativity where others are stumped by challenges; and it can empower individuals to take ownership and pride in their work instead of passing the buck. Any company or organization that places a priority on strong leadership will reap the benefits in every aspect of their workforce and their company's performance.
Effective leaders empower others to be their best.
We've all seen those companies where leaders just can't let go: the company founder needs to be in every meeting and have a say in every project; the engineering team manager wants to tell her engineers how to do their work; or the COO feels he must be involved in every decision, no matter how small. This style of leadership inevitably stifles employees because they don't feel empowered to be their best. They play it safe rather than innovate, and they do the bare minimum rather than doing what's best for the company. In this kind of environment, creativity and innovation suffers, and employees quickly lose any incentive to give 100%. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs put it best when he once said, "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
Leaders who work to empower others are more likely to be trusted by their employees, according to one research survey. These leaders are also more likely to have employees who take on greater accountability: they delegate authority to their employees, ask them for their input, and encourage them to make their own decisions. The result is a more proactive workforce, where everyone is engaged in driving company success. In fact, studies show that empowered employees have greater job satisfaction, better organizational commitment, and improved task performance. Empowered employees also have lower stress levels and less of a desire to change jobs. In the end, strong leadership is needed to recognize and pursue employee empowerment.
Leaders with strong ethics and unwavering morals lead better companies.
Whether you follow the Golden Rule or follow your own moral code, your perceived ethics and morality play a big role in your company's success. In fact, one study found that leaders who prioritized morality were linked to higher performing organizations with less employee turnover. At the same time, their employees were not only more creative and more proactive, but were also better engaged and more satisfied at work. Leaders who prioritize morality are essentially practicing what they preach: their actions speak for themselves, and employees tend to trust and follow these leaders more readily than their less moral peers.
When leaders display truly moral, ethical behavior, their actions can have far reaching effects. For example, if a CEO takes ISO certification seriously and refuses to cut corners, employees will follow suit by raising their own standards. If the company leaders emphasize the importance of sexual harassment training, employees will take heed and be more cautious and respectful in their own behavior. And if the managers make transparent and fair decisions around compensation and bonus plans, then employees will feel more motivated to put in their best effort. All of these actions by great leaders can have direct consequences on a company's bottom line and overall success.
Great leaders drive the company's vision.
Even when leaders motivate and empower their employees, they still have one more important responsibility: being a champion for the company's vision. In the daily grind of never-ending projects and constant emergencies, it can be easy to lose sight of your company's vision. This is especially true when the company management starts to dwell on things like profit margin, expansion, or market placement. But great leaders have the ability to step back and frame their work around the company's vision. For example, what does the company strive for? What does the company promise to deliver? And where does the company see itself in 10 years? Some leaders create a mission statement to capture these goals. Others might use service excellence standards or a company motto. But no matter how the company's vision is laid out, it is vital to have strong leaders in place who can champion that mission. And when the company starts to veer off course, as can sometimes happen, a great leader will steer everyone back on track by placing that original company vision first and foremost.
Where great leaders go, companies will follow.
An organization without great leadership is like a ship without a rudder. Everyone flounders along as best as they can, and they try to look out for themselves along the way. Unfortunately, many companies persist in this state until they eventually fail. But when strong leaders take the helm, employees have someone to put their faith in. Once that connection of trust is established, employees will follow their leaders through whatever challenges may arise.
If a company has to downsize, for example, a great leader will rally the remaining employees and keep their spirits up and their focus pointing to the future. If the company stock takes a hit or if an important investor falls through, great leaders will be transparent and honest with their employees to allay any fears. And if a major change such as a merger or a new acquisition is on the horizon, great leaders will prepare their employees for the future state of the company, all while maintaining morale and fostering engagement. In the end, companies look to their leaders for direction, motivation and inspiration.
At NexaLearning, we help organizations bring the best out of their people and their leaders. And we offer a variety of leadership development programs that are customized to your experience level and desired outcome. Whether you're planning to make an organizational change, build leadership skills, or implement a culture shift, we can work with you to build and implement an effective strategy. Contact us to learn more about our leadership and training offerings.
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